Preparing for Graduate or Law School

Do you hope to pursue a Ph.D. and an academic career? Or have you set your sights on an M.A. in a specialized field of history, or on a professional graduate program such as law, education, or divinity? Here are some steps to get you to your goal.

How to Start

Junior year is a good time to begin thinking seriously about graduate school.

If you are a History or History/Social Science major, make an appointment with Dr. Melissa Harkrider, the department’s graduate school coordinator, to discuss general issues related to grad school planning.

Talk with your faculty academic adviser and with any faculty members in the History Department who are specialists in your area of interest.

Also talk with seniors you know who are in the midst of grad school applications. Networking is one key to success in finding and being admitted to the best graduate program for you.

Research the types of programs available. Check out the AHA's list of specializations to start.

General Resources

  • Graduate School Resources from Wheaton's Center for Vocation and Career with links to more information
  • Graduate Student Resources on the Web.” A fun, eclectic page maintained by a former University of Michigan grad student and now Ph.D., Dan Horn. It is an excellent source of links to helpful information and a good place to browse for students beginning to think about grad school.
  • A .pdf file containing guidelines from the Career Center at the University of South Carolina regarding graduate school. Sections on “The Graduate School Application Process” and “Writing the Graduate School Essay” may be helpful.

Rankings of History Graduate Programs in the U.S.

U.S. News & World Report publishes annual rankings of graduate programs, including those in history. The rankings of top history departments can provide some general guidance, although departments vary widely in their specific areas of strength. One way to narrow your search is to investigate departments where faculty specialize in your area of interest. Or, if you are attracted to a specific history department, search for published writings by faculty to give you a better idea of their research focus. Your professors at Wheaton can also provide help in narrowing your search.

Schools Recent Grads Have Attended

  • Northwestern University
  • Marquette University
  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Maryland
  • Georgetown University